Cannabis stores are coming to Mission.
Council is debating how best to create and implement a new licence-applications policy that would allow both government and privately run retail cannabis stores in Mission.
On Monday night, a district staff report outlined how such a policy could look and asked council for direction on how to proceed.
Two zoning options were presented.
The first – permitted zoning – would treat retail cannabis sales similar to liquor store use, which is allowed in several current commercial zones, core commercial zones, commercial neighbourhood zones, mutually exclusive commercial zones and the Silverdale neighbourhood one zone.
The second choice is to create a new zone specifically for retail cannabis sales. That option gives council the ability to spot zone properties in which cannabis stores may operate. That process would see an applicant make a zone amending application to spot-zone a property.
The report also suggested adding spacial separations between other cannabis stores and schools. That would require a minimum buffer of 250 metres. Each application would also have to go through a public consultation process, as per Liquor and Cannabis Regulation Branch regulations.
Council did not vote on either zoning option, asking staff to return in four weeks with more information.
“It will be the same two options, but it will be better fleshed out,” said Coun. Mark Davies.
“We learned a lot as council (Monday night). We’ve learned a lot about what our options are. We’ve got some homework to do and ask some questions of staff to better clarify and get a better idea in our head of what the next direction will be.”
Mayor Pam Alexis said she felt council wasn’t clear on how they wanted to process these applications, which is why a decision was deferred.
She said she could have voted for the first option, similar to liquor stores, rather than creating a new zone.
“The spot zoning to me is, I think, a risk for us,” she said, noting council would have to pick and choose who to do business with.
“It’s a fairness thing for me.”
Alexis said the district is receiving a lot of inquiries regarding retail cannabis and, recognizing this, needs to get a policy in place.
In May 2018, the previous council published a proposed framework for cannabis regulation. Within that framework, retail cannabis sales were identified and only government-operated retail outlets would be supported. It was also suggested that they only be located in malls.
The new policy has moved away from that idea.
“It’s not illegal anymore and we have to treat it that way,” Alexis said.